Found: Fountain of Youth

I’ve found the Fountain of Youth. And, you can bet I’m drinking from the well. Good news is there’s enough to go around. Plenty.

Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

That’s right: The Fountain of Youth is available to all of us. It’s in our reading, our interpersonal interactions, our daily life. It’s online. It’s in paperback. It’s right there in front of you. All it takes is the realization that we can never know too much, and that there’s always someone or something that can provide wisdom.

At E&V we take lifelong learning seriously. It’s part of our culture. Not just because the communications field is constantly changing, but also because we value what others can contribute to us and our work.

We say we’re smart counselors, and we’re challenged to prove that every day on behalf of our clients. So, it’s critical to stay alert of all changing technologies and theories, learn what works and doesn’t work, spread the wisdom around, and put it all to work. Here are just a few ways we’re drinking from the well at Eckel & Vaughan:

1 Learning from all.

Twice monthly in-house professional development sessions are held to ensure we’re up to speed on the most recent theory and practice. And, those in leadership aren’t the only instructors. From our account specialists and our founding partners to our freelancers and interns – all are encouraged to know their respective disciplines inside and out, and teach the rest.

2 Reading up.

We’re also known to have a summer book club. A group signs up to read the same book and then each team member leads a discussion for each chapter. This one was a hit. We also read a number of client-focused trade publications and newspapers to ensure we know what’s happening within the fields we’re helping clients communicate in. Our interns are even required to choose and read a book while they are with us.

3 Moving forward. Always.

Every team member has a growth plan that outlines what they need to learn over a running three-year period. It’s individualized to each person, identifies knowledge, skills, and abilities to master, and requires that they learn and apply them each year. This growth plan is totally customized to the individual, and goes hand-in-hand with annual goals and reviews.

4 Bringing the outside in.

At E&V there’s professional development budget for each team member. A percentage of all salaries, this budget is dedicated to bringing outside resources like PRSA Webinars and AMA conferences to bear. Using the growth plan as a guide, each team member and their supervisor identifies opportunities for education. And, after they attend, they come back and teach.

5 Mentoring matters.

Editing, without coaching, is a no-no. Every to-do, every document, every meeting is positioned as an opportunity to learn. There’s no tracking a document and sending it back. Instead it’s read, tracked, and discussed. We get that you might find this inefficient. We disagree. It’s far more effective and efficient in the long run.

With a culture like ours, it’s difficult to list all the learning that’s taking place. But, I bet you our team has fewer wrinkles than the rest. They’ve found the Fountain of Youth and are drinking it all in. How about you?